Butter lettuce, which includes Bibb and Boston lettuces, have tender leaves with a very mild, buttery flavor making it an excellent addition to salads and sandwiches. Butter lettuce is known for its small, round, loosely formed heads with soft, buttery-textured leaves.
- Butter Lettuce provides an:
- Excellent source of vitamin K
- Good source of folate and vitamin A
- Lutein and zeaxanthin
Butter lettuce is grown in major lettuce producing areas of California and Arizona in both winter and summer months. The crop can take from 65 to 80 days from seed to harvest during the mid-summer months, but as long as 130 days in the late fall and winter. When it comes to harvest, butter lettuce is hand-picked as a whole head and packed into cartons in the field. If it is destined for a packaged salad mix, it will be picked and placed into small totes and sent to a processing facility.
Butter lettuce is a great addition to any salad. Outside leaves can also be used in place of tortillas or even sandwich bread.
Did You Know? CRISPR Plant Breeding Technology May Help Save Lettuce as Climate Warms
Although not yet available in the market, lettuce created from what is known as CRISPR plant breeding techniques may be the key to the continued production of lettuce as the planet warms. Researchers at the University of California, Davis are working on developing varieties of lettuce that will grow in warmer climates. Traditional lettuce varieties don’t do well in warm climates, but by salvaging seeds from wild lettuce plants, breeders are hoping to develop varieties that will germinate even in hot temperatures.
CRISPR plant breeding technology — which stands for Clustered Regular Spaced Short Palindromic Repeats — allows researchers to precisely improve a plant without incorporating DNA from another species. With CRISPR, plant breeders can select certain plant characteristics for certain qualities such as higher yields, tolerance to drought, longer shelf life or better nutrition. All of this is achieved by deleting, editing or replacing specific traits working only with existing diversity within that plants’ genetic family.
The process allows breeders to dramatically reduce the time it takes to breed improved varieties and is one more tool to develop sustainable solutions to problems to ensure continued food production in the face of climate change.
Watch a video on this topic produced by the American Seed Trade Association here.